Electric vehicles: driving the transition Contents

5Charging infrastructure

48.Poor provision of charging infrastructure in the UK is one of the greatest barriers to growth of the domestic EV market, and the challenge raised most frequently by witnesses to our inquiry.99 The existing charging network is lacking both in size and geographic coverage, with the fastest (‘rapid’) charge points being particularly scarce. Analyses by the Energy Saving Trust (Figure 4) and HSBC (Table 3) indicate that there are substantial disparities in the provision of public charge points across the country, with wide regional variations in both the average distance to a public charge point, and the ratio of public charge points to people. Such challenges are not unique to the UK: the need to improve charging infrastructure has been identified as one of the most significant barriers to EV development globally.100

Table 3: Publicly funded charge points

Number of charge points by region

People per charge point

North East






Northern Ireland



South East






South West



West Midlands



North West



East Midlands















Source: HSBC survey data, published in “Lack of chargers delays switch to electric cars, The Times, 26 March 2018

Figure 4 Average distance to nearest public electric vehicle charge point. Image provided by the Energy Saving Trust.

49.A visible and wide-reaching public charging network is essential to mitigate ‘range anxiety’ amongst would-be EV motorists.101 It will need to cater to the various travel needs of individual and commercial motorists, as well as to motorists with different levels of access to private charging facilities.102 Most EV users charge their vehicle at home overnight, and are expected to continue doing so, although workplace charging could also play an important role.103 Public charge points will be required in residential areas for the 40–50% of homes in the UK that do not have off-street parking, as well as at destinations such as town centres and retail parks, and at service stations to allow the completion of longer journeys. Destination and en-route charge points will need to be ‘rapid’ (taking 30 minutes to charge) or ‘fast’ (3–4 hours) to be useful and convenient.104 Charging infrastructure must also be readily accessible to motorists. The existing proliferation of multiple types of plugs and sockets, open access and subscription networks, payment systems and pricing regimes has meant that it has not always been easy for motorists to locate available charge points, to compare charge speeds and costs, and to equip themselves to pay for charging services across the country.105

50.The Road to Zero Strategy sets out the Government’s aim to create “one of the best EV infrastructure networks in the world”.106 However, the development of a national charging infrastructure that is sufficient, accessible and convenient for motorists will not be straightforward. In particular, we heard concerns about: the challenges of mitigating adverse impacts on the electricity grid and the need for standardisation in infrastructure; the poor business case for charge points in rural areas; the insufficiency of support for local authorities; the widespread lack of coordination amongst actors across the charging arena, and; the dichotomy between national aspirations and the Government’s reliance on local actors for delivery. We discuss each in turn.

Technological issues

Electricity grid impacts

51.The potential impacts of EVs on the electricity grid have received considerable attention in media and policy circles, with a particular focus on the increase in generation capacity that will be needed to meet demand from EVs. For example, the Times and the Daily Mail reported last year that the UK would need 20 new nuclear power stations, whilst a Financial Times article claimed that the UK’s generation capacity would need to increase by 70%.107 During our inquiry it has become clear that such concerns are overblown. As discussed in Chapter 2, we heard that the system operator National Grid would welcome an increase in the national ambition on EV deployment. They are confident that sufficient new generation capacity, as well as necessary grid reinforcements and demand management technologies, can be brought online, on time to meet the increase in demand.108 Further, it is evident that much of the media hype around potential increases is misplaced.

52.Several newspapers reported last summer that EV could increase peak demand by 18 GW by 2050 - equivalent to six new Hinkley Point C power stations.109 These quoted an estimate by National Grid that had been modelled to illustrate an extreme ‘worst case’ scenario, in which all cars in the UK were electric, and they were all charged at the same time.110 These stories have been convincingly exposed as misinterpretations.111 We heard from Graeme Cooper, Director of EVs at National Grid, that the probability of such a situation occurring is “close on zero”.112 More realistically, National Grid projects that the increase in peak demand from EVs is likely to be in the region of 8 to 11 GW, with the lower range being achievable if smart charging technologies, vehicle to grid technology and incentives to charge vehicles at off-peak times are used to shift and lower electricity demand.113

53.Whatever the level of new capacity required to supply EVs, it is essential that any new power stations constructed are low carbon; otherwise the EV transition will fail its core aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport.114 The UK has made substantial progress in reducing emissions from power, which are now 65% lower than 1990 levels, but more is needed to ensure that decarbonisation of this sector remains on track to meet the UK’s 2050 climate change targets. In their 2018 progress report, the Committee on Climate Change warned that there is a significant risk that insufficient low carbon power will be delivered by 2030.115 Opportunities to install low carbon power at least cost are being missed due to the lack of route-to-market for onshore wind and solar—the cheapest low carbon renewables—whilst there is no strategy for developing carbon capture usage and storage, which is crucial to meet our 2050 climate change targets at least cost.116 We welcome assessments by National Grid, and others, that the EV transition is unlikely to present a risk to the security of national electricity supply. Nonetheless, the increased electricity demand will necessitate investment in new generation capacity. The EV transition therefore strengthens the case for Government to review its support for new generation plant and to ensure that all support is consistent with the Government’s overarching aim of least-cost decarbonisation. We will continue to follow the Government’s progress in the decarbonisation of power closely, for example through our ongoing inquiry into carbon capture usage and storage.117

54.Rather than increases to peak demand, the most problematic impacts of EVs on the electricity grid are likely to be experienced on distribution networks,118 where the majority of charge points are expected to be connected.119 If clusters of EV charge points emerge without sufficient planning and mitigation measures, then charging could overload local, low voltage networks, leading to power outages or ‘brown-outs’.120 The ‘My Electric Avenue’ EV trials found that that over 300,000 UK networks could be at risk of overloading from EV charging, with some local networks overloading when as little as 30–40% of customers charge their vehicle.121 Separate analysis by the Green Alliance has found that “as few as 6–8 cars charging in a small cluster, at peak time through dumb chargers, could result in significant disruptions to the local electricity distribution system.”122 The risk of overloading will vary according to local conditions–particularly the amount of ‘spare capacity’ that is available to deal with additional loads.123 Rural networks may be particularly at risk, since they typically have lower resilience (being connected to fewer neighbouring networks), and because motorists in rural areas are likely to rely heavily on home charging.124

55.Mitigation of these impacts is expected to be achieved through a combination of physical grid reinforcements and ‘smart charging’ (which allows charging loads to be adjusted throughout the day), with innovative ‘vehicle-to-grid’ technologies potentially playing a role in the future.125 Witnesses agreed that opportunities to utilise smart charging should be prioritised as the technology offers substantial cost savings.126 The My Electric Avenue trial has estimated that smart charging could defer or avoid network reinforcement costs relating to EVs worth £2.2 billion; whilst the National Infrastructure Commission estimates that EV-related reinforcement costs could exceed £16 billion by 2050 if left unmanaged.127

56.Concerns have however been raised about the potential impacts of smart charging on consumers, notably potential charging delays and the sharing of electricity consumption data, although early industry trials indicate that with appropriate communication the technology is acceptable to consumers.128 It can further be made desirable through the use of preferential tariffs. Some witnesses called for smart charging to be made an opt-out service to maximise participation, and thereby minimise the extent and cost of grid reinforcements.129 We welcome the introduction of powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018 for the Secretary of State to make regulations prohibiting the sale or installation of charge points unless they meet certain smart functionality requirements.

57.Even with widespread uptake of smart charging, network reinforcements will be needed in some locations–for example where user uptake of EVs is high, where the existing network is already weak, or at sites where rapid or high-power charging is required (such as charging hubs and fleet depots).130 Reinforcements needs could be reduced by co-locating on-site electricity generation and energy storage, or by planning for charge point sharing amongst fleets.131 In the future vehicle-to-grid technologies could harness the potential of EVs themselves to serve as storage assets on the electricity grid, charging and discharging the batteries of connected vehicles to alleviate grid constraints and allowing motorists to earn revenues from their vehicles. The desirability and implications of these services for motorists are not yet clear however, and further R&D and field trials are required.132 Challenges to address include the impacts on battery life, interactions with battery warranties, and how to ensure there is always a sufficient reserve of power in the battery in case the vehicle is needed in an emergency.133 We welcome the Government’s recent £30 million investment in Vehicle-to-Grid R&D to explore the potential of this technology.

Standardisation of charging infrastructure

58.During the early phases of our inquiry witnesses involved in the energy sector and charge point technology raised concerns about the lack of standardisation and data sharing across charging infrastructure.134 This lack of standardisation was blamed for poor interoperability, with variations in physical charging connections, network memberships and payment methods preventing EV motorists from accessing the full range of UK charge points.135 Innovate UK and Zero Carbon Futures also emphasised the need for improved provision of information to motorists on the location, capacity, availability and pricing of public charge points.136 Alongside this, there is a need for charge points to have a common and recognisable design, so that they can be easily identified by motorists.

59.The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill progressed through Parliament and received Royal Assent during the course of our inquiry.137 The Act introduces enabling provisions for electric vehicle charging, which allow the Government to regulate to: improve the consumer experience of charging infrastructure (with a uniform method of charge point access, requirements for charge point availability and maintenance, and publicly available information on charge points); ensure provision at key strategic locations such as motorway service areas; require that charge points have ‘smart’ capability; and ensure that certain charge point data (such as energy consumption and geographical location) can be transmitted to specified persons (e.g. National Grid or the DNOs). These provisions address many of the concerns about charging infrastructure that we heard, and in general were welcomed by witnesses.138

60.We welcome the provisions of the Automated and Electric Vehicle Act 2018 to allow Government to set and enforce regulations that: standardise and ensure interoperability of public charge points, including payment systems; ensure provision and standardisation of information about public charge points; mandate charge points at large fuel retailers; and require smart charging capabilities. We very strongly recommend that the Government make full use of these powers by setting and enforcing new regulations to promote the development of convenient, accessible charging infrastructure.

Rural areas

61.The Road to Zero Strategy states the Government’s expectation that the transition to zero emission vehicles will be industry and consumer led.139 While this may be true for the uptake of vehicles, and for the installation of charge points in locations where there is a strong business case,140 it is unlikely that market forces alone will lead to the installation of charge points in rural areas, where the potential near-term customer base may be small, and where the costs of electricity grid connections can be very high.141 Rural areas are expected to be critical to the alleviation of so-called ‘range anxiety’, since they are home to the majority of motorway service areas, where rapid charge points would provide drivers with a means to refuel and complete long journeys.142 Access to convenient charge points will also be essential to ensure that remote communities do not become further isolated, either because they become unreachable for other EV motorists, or because they themselves are unable to utilise new EV technology.143 The Government has announced its intention to oblige large fuel retailers and motorway service areas to provide charge points in their forecourts.144 The National Infrastructure Commission, however, has suggested that support should go further: in the recent National Infrastructure Assessment, the Commission recommended that the Government should subsidise the provision of rapid charge points in rural and remote areas by 2022, since the market will not deliver these in the short term.145 The Commission estimated that the cost of installing chargers at 200 currently unserved locations would be around £10 million. National Grid has emphasised the importance of learning from the mistakes of mobile phone and broadband rollout, which remains incomplete.146

62.We welcome the commitment in the Road to Zero Strategy to monitor whether any significant gaps in EV or infrastructure provision emerge in the medium term, and to consider the case for direct government support in areas where there is a market failure in the future.147 However, it is already apparent that the market is not delivering rapid public charge points in certain strategically important locations, notably rural areas.148 Delaying support for rural charge points will only prolong range anxiety amongst potential EV motorists, impeding development of the market. We recommend that the Government should not wait for additional evidence of the need to support the business case for rapid charge points in rural and remote areas, but instead subsidise the provision without delay and by 2022 as recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission.

Support for local authorities

63.Local authorities (LAs) are pivotal to the development of EV charging infrastructure: they have been the promoters and coordinators of exemplar EV cities and regions using competitively awarded central Government funds such as the Go Ultra Low Cities, Ultra Low Emission Taxis and Low Emission Buses schemes; they are responsible for setting local planning policy requirements, which can include provision for charge points in new developments and car parks; and most recently they have been targeted by central Government to deliver on-street charge points, albeit with financial support.149 However, the increasing resource pressures of recent years have made it difficult for many LAs to prioritise EVs as an additional, non-statutory agenda150 - a point illustrated by the fact that we received no spontaneous responses from LAs to our open call for evidence.151 We heard that LAs are facing significant challenges related to three key areas—funding, technical expertise, and coordination with network companies—all of which could be alleviated with improved and more proactive engagement from central Government.


64.Most historical financial support for LAs to develop charging infrastructure has been awarded competitively, with a focus on developing best practice through model EV cities and regions. Whilst this has helped drive innovation, it has also led to a proliferation in the range of solutions adopted, and patchy provision across the country.152 Several witnesses stated that geographical variation in charge point coverage can be traced to the relative success of different LAs in securing these funds.153 Rasita Chudasama, Principal Transport Planner at Nottingham City Council supported this view, explaining that Nottingham—one of the Government’s flagship ‘Go Ultra Low’ cities—would “absolutely not” have been able to develop its leading charge point network in the absence of funding, which has been crucial to leverage private sector investment.154

65.Local authorities, consumer organisations and the UKEVSE suggested that a more systematic approach to funding for LAs would help to address existing disparities and grow a more consistent network of charge points around the UK.155 This could follow the example of the Scottish Government, which awards charge point funding based on the population of LAs.156 However, the UKEVSE also warned that in the absence of competition funds may be awarded without necessary management buy-in and expertise.157 Nissan suggested that rather than systematising funds, the Go Ultra Low Cities scheme should be expanded to benefit more cities.158 The Minister explained that the Government faces a “dilemma” over whether to support a few LAs in demonstrating the benefits of EVs, or divide an equivalent funding pot more evenly but thinly.159 He suggested that the Government would review funding approaches in the future if specific parts of the country are still struggling to develop charging infrastructure.160 We welcome the Government’s investment in EV showcase initiatives such as the Go Ultra Low Cities scheme, which have been central to testing and demonstrating innovative deployment approaches. Now that EVs are becoming mainstream, an alternative approach is needed to promote deployment more evenly across regions. The Government should introduce a strategy to support local authorities that have been less successful in accessing funding so far by 2021, for example by replicating Go Ultra Cities in regions which have poor charging provision, or by allocating funds on a more systematic basis.

66.LAs also raised concerns about the mismatch between the targeting of central Government funds towards particular solutions and local policy priorities.161 The On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, a non-competitive grant, was launched in December 2016.162 It offers support to LAs worth up to 75% of the capital costs of installing on-street charge points. In the Scheme’s first year only two grants were awarded, worth a combined total of £76,500.163 The lack of interest prompted Ministers to write to LAs in January 2018, with the result that by July 2018 13 grants—worth around £1 million—had been awarded.164

67.We heard from LAs that the Scheme’s initial low uptake has been due to its failure to take account of local policy pressures and limits on council resources. Councils are hesitant to install on-street parking charging—and in turn reserve parking spaces for EVs—in areas where competition for parking spaces is already high, while the installation of on-street charge points can conflict with local policy aims to construct cycle lanes, or to improve the accessibility of pavements for pedestrians.165 Further, the requirement to source 25% match funding, and cover full operational costs, means that even with the grant these charge points remain difficult for councils to afford.166

68.These objections do not imply, however, that LAs are not aware of the importance of charge points for motorists without off-street parking. Nottingham City Council is exploring options to develop charging hubs at council-owned facilities such as libraries and car parks, while Leeds City Council suggested that the grants should be extended to allow installation at privately-owned sites, and Wolverhampton City Council argued that the Government could better support councils in developing locally-appropriate charging solutions by providing more flexible grant funding.167 Warwickshire County Council highlighted a lack of proactive engagement from central Government, noting “[i]t would be useful if LAs were consulted with on how best to deliver EV infrastructure prior to any new funding schemes being announced”.168 Rather than dictating the precise solutions to be used, we recommend that the Government increase the flexibility of funding for public charge points, providing local authorities with the autonomy to assess and install charging infrastructure that fits in with local needs and priorities. Future funding schemes that seek to target specific solutions should be considered only if consultation with local authorities indicates that there is a clear appetite for these solutions, and that proposed levels of funding will be sufficient to enable their development.

69.LAs often fall responsible not only for the installation of public charge points, but also their maintenance. Many struggle to fund this - with potentially severe consequences for the usability of new charging resources.169 Research by the RAC Foundation in June 2017 found that 13% of public charge points were out of service.170 Given the relative scarcity of charge points, this failure rate serves only to reinforce motorists concerns about the ‘risks’ of EVs. Support is needed to ensure that LA-owned charge points are kept in good working order; their functionality for motorists should be at least as reliable as petrol pumping stations.

70.Central Government’s focus on promoting on-street charge points is in conflict with local policy priorities and is not working. Support is needed for alternative solutions such as local charging hubs. The Government should proactively engage with local authorities, motorist organisations, charge point providers and distribution network operators to identify mutually agreeable solutions—including maintenance plans—so that motorists without off-street parking do not remain at a disadvantage. We have seen no evidence that Government has adequately involved local authorities in such discussions so far, and our evidence suggests that it is not realistic to expect local authorities to act spontaneously: proactive engagement from Government is required.

Technical expertise

71.EVs are a rapidly evolving technological field, making it hard to maintain up-to-date expertise, which is itself essential to assess demand, procurement and ongoing management options for charge points, as well as to compile competitive applications for funding. In the absence of impartial and reliable technical support, councils are nervous of investing in costly charging equipment that may be under-utilised or later become obsolete.171 We heard calls for central Government to facilitate information sharing between councils, to provide guidance on charge point technology, to set specific guidelines for new developments, and to develop clearer, more coordinated policy to assist the development of a national network.172 In addition, the inconsistency of low emission vehicle definitions used by different central Government departments has meant that LAs have had to individually set their own to be used in local policies, leading to a proliferation of different standards around the country.173

72.The Government’s revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), published in July 2018, advises that new development applications should be designed to enable EV charging, and that new local parking standards should take account of the need for charge points.174 While we welcome the Government’s intention to align local planning policies more closely with national EV aims, we note the concerns of witnesses that these new revisions are too weak. UKEVSE suggested that rather than require charging to be enabled, the NPPF could specify minimum standards e.g. the number of parking spaces that should be equipped with a charger, an approach already adopted locally in London.175 We also heard that more specific guidance at the national level would be beneficial as it can be difficult for LAs to determine individually the ‘right’ level of charge point requirements for different types of development.176 We welcome the amendments to the National Policy Planning Framework to encourage the consideration of charge points at new developments and in local parking standards. We recommend that these be made more specific, to set a minimum number of charge points that should be included in both residential and non-residential developments. The number of charge points required should be linked to the expected use and occupancy of the development.

Coordination with distribution network operators

73.Both local authorities and charge point operators highlighted the difficulties of getting agreement from all stakeholders on the location of new public charge points, and in particular from distribution network operators177 (DNOs), which can ultimately reject the proposal if it would unduly constrain the local electricity grid.178 It was suggested that the lack of incentives for DNOs to invest in grid reinforcements to promote charge point installations, or even to share data on suitable sites, has substantially delayed installations in some areas and put funding at risk.179 Chargemaster suggested that DNOs should be sanctioned to reinforce low voltage substations, and to publish information showing the capacity available on low voltage networks so that businesses are better able to identify suitable charge point locations.180 In turn, we heard that poor visibility on the location of ‘behind the meter’ charge points has made it difficult for DNOs to anticipate and plan for the network impacts of associated increases in electricity demand.181 Distribution network operators have the right to reject applications for larger charge point installations. Whilst this is important to maintain secure and reliable local electricity supplies, there are concerns that network companies have sometimes obstructed the development of charging infrastructure and that they have little commercial incentive to promote EVs. We recommend that the Government investigates options to either incentivise or require electricity network companies to facilitate the development of charging infrastructure.

Cross-departmental coordination

74.The inadequacy of efforts to coordinate EV stakeholders at the local level is unfortunately mirrored in the relationship between relevant central Government departments. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), co-hosted by BEIS and DfT, holds responsibility for promoting EVs across Government. In general, witnesses considered that OLEV has forged effective links between its host departments, and that it provides helpful advice, on demand, to local stakeholders.182 However, it is clear that cross-departmental coordination on EVs can—and should—be further strengthened. Many witnesses highlighted inconsistent, unambitious and poorly-coordinated Government policy as a barrier to EV uptake.183 In addition to concerns surrounding the 2040 targets, we heard about discrepancies between clean air, transport, planning and fiscal policy. Examples include how changes to Vehicle Excise Duty and Benefits-in-Kind have, albeit inadvertently, served to delay EV uptake (see Chapter 3), and how the push for on-street charging is at odds with aims to improve the accessibility of streets for pedestrians and cyclists.

75.Witnesses called for greater clarity, stability and direction across EV-relevant Government policies, stronger interventions to phase out ICE vehicles, and stronger support for the development of charging infrastructure and the post-manufacture EV supply chain.184 UKEVSE and BYD suggested that cross-Government challenges such as air quality could be harnessed to galvanise a better-coordinated approach to EV deployment across all departments.185 National Grid further suggested that cross regulation, linking the concerns of multiple sectors, could enhance existing consumer protections and help to minimise the costs of the EV transition. This would allow the impacts of potential charging solutions to be considered holistically, rather than considering only impacts related to a single sector, for example energy, in any given assessment.186

76.Metrics used to encourage the use of alternative vehicles are also confusing; as well as the lack of clarity on the meanings of “effectively zero” and “conventional” petrol and diesel (discussed in Chapter 2), we heard that the emissions performance criteria for EV incentives vary between different central departments and local authorities.187 For example, the vehicle emissions performance requirements of the plug-in grant scheme, the exemption from standard rate Vehicle Excise Duty, the definition of ultra low emission vehicles under the Clean Air Zone Framework, and the exemption from the London Ultra Low Emission Zone charge, are all subtly different (Table 4). This lack of central, widely-used standards has made it difficult for would-be EV motorists to identify and compare the incentives they would receive if they adopt a particular EV model, and has left LAs to determine their own standards for local policy individually.188 We welcome the Government’s recent commitment, in the Road to Zero Strategy, to “set [ … ] our definitions of ultra low and zero emission vehicles that local areas may adopt”. We recommend that these definitions must be unambiguous, and that the emissions performance criteria used across different departmental policies and incentives should be made consistent to reflect the definitions adopted.

Table 4: Illustrative examples of variation in eligibility requirements amongst policy incentives for low emission cars and vans.



Eligibility requirements

Office for Low Emission Vehicles

Plug-in Grant

Cars: Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions <50g/km and can travel ≥112km (70 miles) with zero CO2 emissions (category 1), or;
CO2 emissions <50g/km, can travel ≥16km (10 miles) with zero CO2 emissions and full purchase price <£60,000 (category 2)*, or;
CO2 emissions 50≤75g/km, can travel ≥32km (20 miles) with zero CO2 emissions and full purchase price <£60,000 (category 3)*.

*Note that category 2 and 3 vehicles will only be eligible for a grant until 9 November 2018.

Motorcycles: Zero CO2 emissions and can travel ≥50km (31 miles) between charges

Mopeds: Zero CO2 emissions and can travel ≥30km (19 miles) between charges

Vans: CO2 emissions <75 g/km and can travel ≥16km (10 miles) with zero CO2 emissions

Taxis: Purpose-built taxis with CO2 emissions <50g/km and can travel ≥70 miles with zero CO2 emissions

Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs; Department for Transport

Exemption from Clean Air Zone charges

New cars or vans that emit less than 75 grams of CO2 from the tailpipe per kilometre driven


Vehicle Excise Duty - Standard Rate Exemption

Cars registered since 1 April 2017: zero CO2 emissions

Cars registered 1 March 2001 to 31 March 2017: ≤100g/km CO2 emissions.


Preferential rate for company car tax

Preferential rate of 13% (compared with 16% standard rate) for cars with CO2 emissions ≤50g/km in 2018–19.


Enhanced capital allowances

100% first year allowance for new cars with CO2 emission ≤50g/km

Writing down allowance at 18% per year for new cars with CO2 emissions <110g/km

Greater London Authority

Exemption from London Ultra Low Emission Zone charge

Based on Euro standards. These set limits for nitrogen oxides and particulate matter:

Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)

Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles

Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles

Euro VI (NOx and PM) for lorries, buses and coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles (NOx and PM)

Source: OLEV, Low-emission vehicles eligible for a plug-in grant, accessed 9 October 2018; OLEV, Tax benefits for ultra low emission vehicles, May 2018; Defra & DfT, Clean Air Zone Framework, May 2017; Transport for London ULEZ standards, accessed 9 October 2018.

A shared strategic plan

77.It has become clear during our inquiry that there is a discrepancy between the Government’s aspiration to develop rapidly a nationwide charging infrastructure, and its decision to leave delivery of charge points largely to local authorities.189 Development of consistent charging infrastructure will require coordination of actors at both the local and national levels, and across multiple sectors. It will also demand the availability of accessible funding solutions for installations where the business case for specific charge points is weak.

78.Vehicle manufacturers, electricity networks, councils and consumer organisations argued that central guidance and support are needed to provide businesses and investors with clear signals about the intended direction of development, and to support the creation of a nationwide charging network that would mitigate range anxiety and so support EV uptake in line with the Government’s sales targets.190 It was further suggested that a strategic plan, tackling both charging and electricity grid challenges simultaneously, could help to reduce the overall cost of constructing a national charging infrastructure.191 EA Technology also argued that deployment could be accelerated, and costs reduced, by allowing for investment in electricity grid reinforcements ahead of need.192 This position is shared by the National Infrastructure Commission, which recommended that Ofgem commission network operators to work with charge point providers to identify potential “anticipatory investments” in their recent Assessment.193

79.There is a mismatch between the Government’s ambition to develop national charging infrastructure and its decision to leave delivery largely to local authorities and private actors. A whole systems perspective is needed to identify solutions that will deliver required functionality at least overall cost, and which will ensure adequate provision of charge points nationwide. We recommend the Government recognise its responsibility in this role and coordinate a shared approach to planning national charging infrastructure at least cost by December 2019. This should ensure sufficient provision of charge points in all regions, including remote areas. It should also take into account electricity grid impacts, including potential interactions with a more widespread move to electrification in heating. We further recommend that the Government and Ofgem work with charge point providers and electricity network companies to assess, by June 2019, the potential for investments ahead of need which could hasten the growth of charging infrastructure and reduce the cost of its implementation.

80.Any strategic plan will need to recognise that charging requirements will differ between regions, with the appropriateness of alternative solutions determined by factors such as local parking arrangements, commuting distances, expected use of chargers and existing electricity grid capacity.194 For example, the scarcity of off-street parking means that cities will likely depend on public charging, whilst public charge point demand will likely be lower in areas where motorists can charge at home, effectively waking up to a ‘full tank’ every morning. The plan should also consider other anticipated developments that might interact with charging and electricity infrastructure needs, for example the introduction of autonomous vehicles and the potential electrification of heating.195

81.The nature of ‘sufficient provision’ will differ between areas according to population density, parking arrangements, the road network and local amenities. In some areas it will require the installation of charge points and electricity grid upgrades which are not commercially viable, but which are necessary to make EVs accessible to residents and to ensure accessibility of the region to other EV motorists. We recommend that the Government sets out a strategy by June 2019 that allows for the nature of local provision to be determined locally, and to deliver charging infrastructure to ‘difficult’ and remote localities, so that these are not further isolated by the EV transition. Care should be taken to ensure that investments in the charging network are future-proofed, taking account of possible changes in technology and use, to minimise the risk of constructing infrastructure that later becomes redundant.

99 ABB [ELV0027], Addison Lee [ELV0063] [EVD0023], Andrew Braithwaite [ELV0002], Association of Convenience Stores [ELV0062] [EVD0019], Asynt [EVD0001], Beemcar [ELV0061], British Parking Association [ELV0024], Broadspeed [ELV0023], BVRLA [EVD0037], BYD [ELV0009], Centre for Business in Society [ELV0020], Electric Blue [EVD0047], Energy Saving Trust [ELV0046] [EVD0056], ETI [ELV0022], Greenpeace [ELV0042], Greenwatt Technology [EVD0008], Innovate UK [EVD0085]; London Forum [ELV0033], MAL R&D [ELV0034], Mark Clemence [ELV0019], NFDA [ELV0038], National Grid [ELV0065] [EVD0063], Octopus Energy Group [ELV0066], OLEV [ELV0064], Petrol Retailers Association [EVD0050], Philip Allen [EVD0014], POD Point [ELV0059], RAC [ELV0014], RAC Foundation [ELV0029], Renewable Energy Association [ELV0049], Rolls Royce [EVD0006], Stephen Clarke [ELV0028], EPSRC CDT Storage [ELV0040],UKEVSE [ELV0055]; Unite [EVD0024], University of Southampton [EVD0046], Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005]

100 International Energy Agency, Global EV Outlook 2018 (May 2018); Bloomberg New Energy Finance, Electric Vehicle Outlook: 2018, (May 2018)

101 Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005], Anglian Water [EVD0011]

102 SSE Enterprise [EVD0054]

103 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [EVD0070], Q76 [RAC Foundation], Anglian Water [EVD0011], Centrica [EVD0033], Chargemaster [EVD0038], E.ON [EVD0020], Electric Blue [EVD0047], NFDA [ELV0038], POD Point [ELV0059], RAC Foundation [ELV0029], SSEN [EVD0057], Tesla [EVD0032], UKEVSE [EVD0044], Mr Allan Jones [ELV0001] National Grid [ELV0065][EVD0063], POD Point [ELV0059], SSEN [EVD0057], The Institution of Engineering and Technology [EVD0017]

105 RAC Foundation [ELV0029], Western Power Distribution [EVD0013], Andrew Braithwaite [ELV0002], Chargemaster [EVD0038], The Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association [EVD0060], ChargePoint [EVD0082], Green Alliance [EVD0041], BluePointLondon [ELV0051]

110 This is the maximum amount of power required by British consumers at any point in the year.

113 National Grid, Future Energy Scenarios (July 2018)

114 POD Point [ELV0059], Nuclear Industry Association [EVD0042], UK Petroleum Industry Association [ELV0036] [EVD0029], Prof Ali Eftekhari [EVD0026], RAC Foundation [ELV0029], UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association [EVD0043], Enertechnos [ELV0021] [EVD0035], Rolls Royce [EVD0006], WWF-UK [ELV0056] [EVD0034], University of Southampton [EVD0046]

115 Committee on Climate Change, Reducing UK emissions 2018 Progress Report to Parliament (June 2018)

117 Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee, Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) inquiry (May 2018)

118 Electricity distribution networks carry electricity from the high voltage transmission grid to industrial, commercial and domestic users.

119 Northern Powergrid [EVD0058], SSEN [EVD0057], SP Energy Networks [EVD0052], Western Power Distribution [EVD0013], UK Power Networks [EVD0049], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051]

120 Brown outs are fluctuations in voltage which can damage appliances and even cause fires in extreme cases. Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], Freight Transport Association [EVD0015]; Ofgem [EVD0065], Anglo American [ELV0044] [EVD0073], Lancaster University students [EVD0071] [EVD0076] [EVD0077] [EVD0078] [EVD0079] [EVD0080] [EVD0081], EA Technology [EVD0048], Petrol Retailers Association [EVD0050], UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association [EVD0043], Green Alliance [EVD0041], Stephen Broderick [EVD0062], SSEN [EVD0057], WSP [EVD0007], EV HUB [EVD0002], Western Power Distribution [ELV0008] [EVD0013]

121 Western Power Distribution [ELV0008] [EVD0013]; SSEN [EVD0057]

122 Green Alliance [EVD0041]

123 Ofgem [EVD0065], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051]

124 Energy Networks Association [EVD0051]

125 Lancaster University students [EVD0071] [EVD0076], Chargemaster [EVD0038], Cross River Partnership [EVD0036], Ecotricity [EVD0086], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], Energy UK [EVD0018], Harold Dermot and Associates [EVD0030], Innovate UK [EVD0027] [EVD0085], Northern Powergrid [EVD0058], OVO Energy [EVD0045], POD Point [ELV0059], SSEN [EVD0057], UK Power Networks [EVD0049], WWF-UK [ELV0056]

126 SSEN [EVD0057], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051]; Aldersgate Group [EVD0039]; Anglo American [EVD0073], Centrica [EVD0033], CIBSE [EVD0031], EA Technology [EVD0048], Eaton [EVD0069], Energy Saving Trust [EVD0056], National Grid [ELV0065] [EVD0063], Octopus Energy Group [ELV0066], Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (EVD0070), RAC Foundation [ELV0029], SMMT [ELV0050], Tesla [EVD0032], UK Petroleum Industry Association [EVD0029]

127 National Infrastructure Commission, CONGESTION, CAPACITY, CARBON: PRIORITIES FOR NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE (June 2017); SSEN [EVD0057]; Q177 Energy Networks Association; Northern Powergrid [EVD0058]

130 Innovate UK [EVD0027] [EVD0085], National Grid [EVD0063], Ofgem [EVD0065], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], SP Energy Networks [EVD0052], WWF-UK [ELV0056]

131 E.ON [EVD0020], SSE [ELV0045], RAC Foundation [EVD0067], Q75 [RAC Foundation], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], Pod Point [ELV0059], Renewable Energy Association [ELV0049]

133 ITM Power [EVD0028], Professor Ali Eftekhari [EVD0026], Pod Point [ELV0059], Motorcycle Industry Association [EVD0072]

134 ABB [EVD0022], Octopus Energy Group [ELV0066], ENGIE [ELV0053], National Grid [ELV0065], E.ON [EVD0020], UKEVSE [EVD0044], Renewable Energy Association [ELV0049], Western Power Distribution [ELV0008] [EVD0013], UK Power Networks [EVD0049], Northern Powergrid [EVD0058], Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005], Innovate UK [EVD0027] [EVD0085]

135 National Grid [ELV0065] [EVD0063], Octopus Energy Group [ELV0066]

136 Innovate UK [EVD0027] [EVD0085], Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005]

138 A minority of witnesses raised concerns about the Act. National Grid and E.ON warned that Government should not lay down overly prescriptive specifications for technology standards, and the Association of Convenience Stores was concerned about the financial burden of providing charge points for fuel retailers. ABB [EVD0022], Octopus Energy Group [ELV0066], ENGIE [ELV0053], National Grid [ELV0065] [EVD0020], Association of Convenience Stores [ELV0062], POD Point [ELV0059], Centre for Business in Society [ELV0020], National Franchised Dealers Association [ELV0038]

140 For example: the presence of EV customers in the case of privately-owned charge points, or the availability of grant funding where the charge point will be publicly-owned.

141 Addison Lee [ EVD0023], Association of Convenience Stores [EVD0019], Renewable Energy Association [ELV0049], Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy [EVD0070]; National Grid [ELV0065] [ EVD0020], UKEVSE (ELV0055); Q224 [Nottingham City Council]; Q268 [UKEVSE]; Qq 361–2 [BMW]; Q357–9 [BYD UK Ltd.]; Q228 [Nottingham City Council]; Q259 [Nissan]; Q360 [Toyota]; ABB [EVD0022], Aldersgate Group [EVD0039], Chargemaster [EVD0038], EV HUB [EVD0002]

144 Department for Transport, Proposed ultra low emission vehicles measures for inclusion in the Modern Transport Bill: government response (February 2017); Automated and Electric Vehicles Act 2018, Part 2

145 National Infrastructure Commission, National Infrastructure Assessment 2018 (July 2018)

149 Renewable Energy Association [ELV0049], Renault Zoe & ZE Owners Club [ELV0004]; Q431 [Harrington]

151 To address this lack of representation we invited the LAs situated in our own constituencies to submit evidence. We also invited a small number of LAs recommended to us by the Energy Saving Trust for having shown interest, but faced barriers, in advancing the EV agenda.

153 Q223 [Chargemaster]; Q228 [Nottingham City Council]; Q254 [UKEVSE]; Leeds City Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (11 April 2018); Cheshire West and Chester Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); UKEVSE [ELV0055], Renewable Energy Association [ELV0049], Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005], Renault Zoe & ZE Owners Club [ELV0004]

155 Q241 [Nottingham City Council]; Q248 [Energy Saving Trust]; Cheshire West and Chester Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018), Renault Zoe & ZE Owners Club [ELV0004], UKEVSE [ELV0055]

161 Warwickshire County Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); Leeds City Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (11 April 2018); City of Wolverhampton Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018), Chichester District Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018); Q249 [UKEVSE]; Q252 [Nottingham City Council]

163 Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Letter to Rachel Reeves MP (4 July 2018)

164 GOV.UK, Funding for thousands of electric car charge points unused by councils, (January 2018); Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Letter to Rachel Reeves MP (4 July 2018)

165 Warwickshire County Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); Leeds City Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (11 April 2018); City of Wolverhampton Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018), Chichester District Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018); Q249 [UKEVSE]; Q252 [Nottingham City Council]

166 Warwickshire County Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); Cheshire West and Chester Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); Leeds City Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (11 April 2018); Q250 [Chargemaster]; Q252 [Nottingham City Council];

167 City of Wolverhampton Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018), Leeds City Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (11 April 2018), Warwickshire County Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018), Q252 [Nottingham City Council]

168 Warwickshire County Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018)

171 Q218 [Nottingham City Council], Q218 [UKEVSE], British Parking Association [ELV0024] Chichester District Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018), Cheshire West and Chester Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018), City of Wolverhampton Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018)

172 Cheshire West and Chester Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); City of Wolverhampton Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (4 May 2018); Leeds City Council, Response to electric vehicles inquiry

174 Secretary of State for Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, National Planning Policy Framework, (July 2018)

176 Q258 [Nottingham City Council]; Q259 [Chargemaster], WWF-UK [ELV0056], Tesla [EVD0032], RAC Foundation [ELV0029] [EVD0067], British Parking Association [ELV0024]

177 A Distribution Network Operator is a company licensed to distribute electricity in the UK. These companies own and operate the system of cables and towers that bring electricity from the national transmission network to our homes and businesses.

181 Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], UK Power Networks [EVD0049], Ofgem [EVD0065].

183 Energy Saving Trust [EVD0056], ABB [EVD0022], ENGIE [ELV0053], BD Auto [ELV0010], RAC Foundation [ELV0029] [EVD0067], Centre for Business in Society [ELV0020], Energy Technologies Institute [ELV0022], UKEVSE [ELV0055] [EVD0044], Greenpeace UK [ELV0042], Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005]

184 RAC [ELV0014], Centre for Business in Society (ELV0020), Zero Carbon Futures [ELV0005], Ecotricity Group Ltd [EVD0004] [EVD0086], ENGIE [ELV0053], BD Auto (ELV0010), ABB [EVD0022], Energy Saving Trust [EVD0056], Energy Saving Trust [EVD0056], Axion Recycling [ELV0043], Unite the Union [EVD0024]

191 Cheshire West and Chester Council, Letter to BEIS Committee (June 2018); E.ON [EVD0020], Renault Zoe & ZE Owners Club [ELV0004]; Association of Convenience Stores [EVD0019]; Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], Northern Powergrid [EVD0058]

193 ‘Revolutionising Road Transport’, National Infrastructure Commission, National Infrastructure Assessment 2018 (July 2018)

195 CIBSE [EVD0031], E.ON [EVD0020], Energy Networks Association [EVD0051], Green Alliance [EVD0041]; POD Point [ELV0059], Innovate UK [EVD0027]

Published: 19 October 2018